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DonD Seeger's swan song? (68* d) RE: Seeger's swan song? 27 May 04


Have I told this Pete story before? It bears repeating:

Back in 1946 or 1947, Pete was already a celebrity to the growing folk audience, and something of a hero to us kids at Harvard, because he had dropped to follow his dream, did something worthwhile like learning at the feet of the old traditional singers in Appalachia, and achieved fame.

He came back to Cambridge to give a concert/lecture in Sever Hall. a lecture space that was primarily used by the Philosophy Dept., and the hundreds of seats were packed. The rafters rang until the custodian insisted it was time to close the building.

Pete announced that he wasn't finished singing that evening, and was adjourning the meeting to a school where they didn't have closing hours, the Sam Adams School in downtown Boston, known as a fairly radical establishment, and anyone who wanted to come along was welcome to join him as long as our voices held out.

With a group of other students, I hopped on the MTA and found the loft building where Pete was set up in a relatively small room, which was even more packed. I found a seat on a windowsill in the back of the room, and was swept up in the fervor of the moment, singing my heart out on every chorus. When Pete gets a group singing together, it becomes an emotional experience, at least for me; that's togetherness.

I can't remember the song -- it was one I didn't know -- but I was belting out the chorus so enthusiastically that I caught his attention, and he called out, "Take the next verse, back there on the windowsill." I didn't know the next verse, or any verse, but that didn't daunt me in the heat of the occasion, and I extemporised something that seemed to go down OK.

The adrenalin rush kept me going it felt like hours, and we were there until Pete's voice actually did give out. Almost all of us have sung with Pete, either in person or along with one of his recordings -- when he says; "Sing!" you sing -- but I'm proud to be able to say that I sang a solo to his picking. It's been all downhill from there!

I saw him last a couple of years ago at the Clearwter Festival on Father's Day, and he was as unassuming and personable as ever. I was surprised to see how he had changed from those earlier days, unlike me. I wonder if he looked at me through ever youthful eyes, and thought the same thing.

And now (in the words of the old joke) he has lots of time to consider the hereafter -- as in "What the next line that comes here after the last one I can remember?"


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